Women in the church tend to hold themselves to unrealistic standards. They have this perfect image in their mind of who they think they’re expected to be. When they realize they can’t meet those standards, they blame the Church for setting those standards. In reality, it was their own self who set those judgmental, unrealistic standards based on what they think others expect of them. They see the “picture-perfect Mormon” family and take it at face value and don’t bother to make a real connection with those they view as “perfect.”
Then they hate themselves for not attaining the same standard they think others attain. They beat themselves up and spiral into self-loathing, bitterness, and faith crises.
And who do they blame for these unrealistic standards?
Those picture-perfect families are never actually picture perfect. And rather than envy them or imagine what awful skeletons they must have in their closets, members need to chill out and try to grow real relationships with other members. Quit comparing and start caring.
I am guilty of beating myself up for not being who I think I should be. But I also say very wrong things to myself because I believe I don’t “measure up.” The things I say to myself are things almost all wives and mothers say to themselves.
“I’m a terrible mother because I yelled at my child after they repeated ‘mom mom mom’ for 90 seconds straight.”
“I’m a lousy wife because I don’t have a home-cooked meal ready for my husband every time he comes home from a hard day’s work.”
“Sometimes I get really bored in Relief Society and can’t relate to the other women. There must be something wrong with me. I’m not a good example.”
“I’m not a very good church member because I’ve only had one child and I will be 30 next year.”
Etc etc etc.
The thing is, it isn’t the Church’s fault that I fall short. I am the one who holds myself to [sometimes] unrealistic standards. Not the Church. I repeat, it is NOT the Church’s fault that I am not perfect in MY own eyes.
Many intellectuals, therapists, and influencers in the church like to approach these issues with “affirmation therapy.” They give comfort to women by telling them, “you didn’t set yourself up for failure, the Church and its culture did. It’s okay to separate yourself from all of that because you are fine just as you are.”
These are church members promoting these ideas. It needs to stop. This approach is completely contrary to what the Brethren preach.
I’m not saying to hate yourself. No! We all need to learn to be happy with who we are and what we can do. But we should never be satisfied and excuse ourselves from improvement. The Church is not the enemy in your quest to love yourself and reach goals. It is actually the greatest tool on Earth when it comes to being the best version of yourself that you can be!
Real church standards (not the fake ones you think are expected of you) are designed by Christ himself and will lead you to success. Individual adaptations may be needed. But that doesn’t make the Church’s standards wrong.
Wherever we lack (and we ALL lack), Christ is there to help us. We will never be good enough, never be perfect, never be satisfied in this life without Him.
We do our very best, and we fall short still. It is okay to accept this. To accept that you need help. With our efforts, we need to not just believe in Christ… but actually believe Christ. Believe He will give the strength and support that He says He will. Believe Christ’s standards are beautiful and good and attainable through Him.
In Come, Follow Me just last week we learned about Alma, the former priest of King Noah, and his journey in the wilderness with his people. They struggled and were greatly burdened. The Lord promised them that if they would trust in Him, their burdens would be made irrelevant. Easy. And they would be able to continue on their way with cheer and patience.
Likewise, when we trust in Him – and the prophets and apostles He has called – even the burdens we place upon ourselves can be made easier. This is because when we truly trust Him, we accept and apply his atonement every day. We accept His promise to lift us up, makeup where we lack, and lighten our burdens.
So why on earth do so many people actually blame His Church instead of leaning on His ample arm? Why do they deny the greatest gift of eternity in the name of “self-care” and “setting boundaries?”
It is a dangerous line to traverse.
You will gain more healing from accepting and working on your shortcomings than from blaming others for them. Repentance heals. Justification and blame harms.
Please. Be careful of who you get your self-help from.
There is only One who can truly help you to measure up.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020, May 11 – May 17.
- “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2016
- “Stay on the High Road” -President Gordon B. Hinckley, April 2004
- “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease” -Elder David A. Bednar, April 2014